Best of Bowie 69-74
Swedish Doom Metal!

Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Candlemass - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (Black Dragon) 1986

1. "Solitude" (5:34)
2. Demon's Gate" (9:10)
3. Crystal Ball" (5:21)
4. Black Stone Wielder" (7:34)
5. Under the Oak" (6:52)
6. A Sorcerer's Pledge" (8:20)

One of the earliest Sabbath inspired doom metal bands, along with Trouble. This album has a big underground cult following. Many consider it to be a classic, if not one of the greatest doom metal albums ever recorded. Slow, doomy, heavy, and somber. Candlemass helped define doom metal. Favorites here are the fantastic, epic "Black Stone Wielder" and album opener "Solitude" which is one of the few songs that I would describe as both beautiful and somber at the same time. The vocals a dreary, doomy, and perfect for this album. This song has a cool Black Sabbath medley at the end. Lyrically, early Candlemass is a bit to dark for my liking, digging into spiritual and fantasy based themes. Early demo versions of "Black Stone Wielder" and "Demon's Gate" appear on the Nemesis CD, which was bassist Leif Eidling's first band. At one point the CD was a bit hard to find, but unless I am mistaken has been remastered and rereleased in recent years.

Candlemass - Nightfall (Axis) 1987

1. "Gothic Stone/The Well of Souls" (8:12)
2. "Codex Gigas" [instrumental]
3. "At the Gallow's End" (5:46)
4. "Samarithan" (5:26)
5. "Marche Funebre" [instrumental]
6. "Dark Are the Veils of Death" (7:08)
7. "Mourner's Lament" (6:08)
8. "Bewitched" (6:36)
9. "Black Candles" [instrumental]

Slow, dark, gothic metal reminiscent of early Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus, while at the same time possessing their own unique style. This was the band's second disc and featured new vocalist Messiah Marcolin, who has a voice that fits well the band's style. I imagine that he would sound just as good singing in a progressive metal band as well. Candlemass' lyrical approach, as seems to be common in doom metal, is of a spiritual nature that is for the most part dark. However, "Samarithan" is based on the the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, continuing on to his deathbed where angels come down from heaven and escort him to his eternal resting place. 'Marche Funebre' is an awesome cover of Chopin's 'Funeral March'.

Ancient Dreams Candlemass - Ancient Dreams (Powerline) 1988

1. "Mirror, Mirror" (6:07)
2. "A Cry from the Crypt" (5:14)
3. "Darkness in Paradise" (6:38)
4. "Incarnation of Evil" (7:47)
5. "Bearer of Pain" (7:14)
6. "Ancient Dreams" (6:54)
7. "The Bells of Acheron" (5:14)
8. "Epistle No. 81" (4:30)
9. "Black Sabbath Medley" (6:14)

1. "Mirror, Mirror" [live] (5:20)
2. "The Bells of Acheron" [live] (5:02)
3. "Bearer if Pain" [live] (6:11)
4. "A Cry from the Crypt" [live] (3:36)
5. Interview (23:51)
6. "Mirror, Mirror" [video]

Ahhh, more "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus"! The band doesn't steer far from the sound that they are known for. I"m not sure that "Ancient Dreams" quite reaches the level of "Nightfall" or the follow-up "Tales of Creation", but it is a fine example of epic and majestic doom metal. Messiah's vocals are outstanding here. The "Black Sabbath Medley" is a CD-only track that play homage to the band that obviously had a huge impact on Candlemass. "Epistle No. 81" is a rendition of a Swedish national classic funeral song, penned by a poet/songwriter named Carl Michael Bellman. The remastered 2 CD set contains a bunch of live songs, an interview, a music video and extensive liner notes.

Tales of Creation Candlemass - Tales of Creation (Enigma/Metal Blade) 1989

1. "The Prophecy" (1:28)
2. "Dark Reflections" (4:57)
3. "Voices in the Wind" (0:20)
4. "Under the Oak" (6:04)
5. "Tears" (4:13)
6. "Into the Unfathomed Tower" [instrumental] (3:00)
i. Dance of the Fay
ii. Magic/Entering the Tower
iii. Dance of the Fay (reprise)
iv. Souls Flight
v. Towards the Unknown
vi. Choir of Angels
vii. Outside the Gates of Heaven
7. "The Edge of Heaven" (6:31)
8. "Somewhere in Nowhere" (3:47)
9. "Through the Infinitive Halls of Death" (5:05)
10. "Dawn" [spoken word] (:30)
11. "A Tale of Creation" (6:50)

"Tales of Creation" is hailed by some as a failed attempt at recreating the masterwork "Ancient Dreams". I just don't see it that way. Rather I see this as the third epic tale of dooooooom since Messiah has joined as vocalist. The sound is typical of these Swedes. They are epic, melodic, dark, with varying degrees of slow to mid paced riffs, crushing guitars and the majestic vocals of Messiah Marcolin. A 2-CD version of this album has also been released, with Disc 2 containing bonus demo tracks and interviews.

Candlemass - Live (Metal Blade) 1991

1. "The Well of Souls" (5:24)
2. "Dark Are the Veils of Death" (4:05)
3. "Bewitched" (4:30)
4. "Solitude" (5:40)
5. "Dark Reflections" (4:45)
6. "Under the Oak" (6:05)
7. "Demon's Gate" (8:55)
8. "Through the Infinitive Halls of Death" (5:35)
9. "Samarithan" (5:20)
10. "Mirror Mirror" (5:30)
11. "At the Gallows End" (5:40)
12. "A Sorcerer's Pledge" (10:00)

Almost seventy minutes of slow brooding metal madness from everybody's favorite doom bad recorded live in Stockholm. I was a bit sceptical about picking up this disc after hearing the horribly recorded Helstar disc. However, Candlemass Live is an excellent recording and a excellent show to boot.

Candlemass Candlemass (Nuclear Blast Records) 2005

1.   Black Dwarf (5:43)
2.   Seven Silver Keys (4:59)
3.   Assassin of the Light (6:29)
4.   Copernicus (7:17)
5.   The Man Who Fell from the Sky [instrumental] (3:26)
6.   Witches (6:22)
7.   Born in a Tank (4:56)
8.   Spellbreaker (7:02)
9.   The Day and the Night (8:52)
10. Mars and Volcanos (3:24)

2005 saw the release of Candlemass' eponymous CD on Nuclear Blast Records. It was a reunion of sorts, with guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats "Mappe" Björkman and vocalist Messiah Marcolin back in the fold. Yes, after nearly fiftenn years, a new Candlemass album with Messiah on vocals. With Marcus behind the mic, what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully, nothing!

I recall the first time listening to Black Sabbath's "Mob Rules" and hearing "E5150/The Mob Rules". It was simply crushing. My first thought when listening to this album for the first time was similar; this is crushing! I imagined a big locomotive engine pulling a long line of box cars. The train might be moving slow, but you just know it's powerful and packed with strength. Those huge metal wheels just continue to crank and turn and crush anything in it's path. Leif Edling's songwriting is that powerful, strong, crushing locomotive engine. I found this to be particularly true of the short instrumental "The Man Who Fell from the Sky". The song could be the soundtrack to that very scene I described. Album opener "Black Dwarf" is simply, well, crushing! This is what doom metal should sound like. It's not progressive, or laced with death metal. Rather it's blugeoning heavy riffs and memorable, slow, plodding songs. This is the case with the entirety of "Candlemass". Lead guitarist Lars Johansson must certainly have studied his Black Sabbath albums before recording this album. One listen to the guitar solos in songs like "Seven Silver Keys" reveals some very Tony Iommi-influenced licks. Speaking of Sabbath, the bridge in "The Day and the Night" brings instant thoughts of Birmingham's fearsome four. Of course, what doom band isn't inspired by the masters of the dark riff?

Candlemass has been around for a very long time and has released albums that have helped define doom metal. As such expectations are high for any new release. Tacked together with the reunion of vocalist Messiah Marcolin, expectations are even higher. Thankfully, Candlemass lives up to those lofty expectations. Simply put, Candlemass is back with their best album since '89’s "Tales Of Creation."

King of the Grey Candlemass - King of the Grey Islands (Nuclear Blast) 2007

1.   Prologue [instrumental] (:55)
2.   Emperor of the Void (4:30)
3.   Devil Seed (5:46)
4.   Of Stars and Smoke (5:38)
5.   Demonia 6 (6:24)
6.   Destroyer (7:55)
7.   Man of Shadows (6:15)
8.   Clearsight (6:51)
9.   The Opal City [instrumental] (1:12)
10. Embracing the Styx (8:19)
11. Solitude (5:57)
12. At the Gallows End (5:21)

In 2004 cult doom metal band Candlemass reunited and the following year released a self-titled album that people raved about. With momentum on their side and a strong record company the group was ready to record the follow-up when vocalist Messiah Marcolin up and left the band once again. Candlemass are one of those band's whose iconic, charismatic singer helps define their sound, despite the fact that he didn't even sing on the band's infamous debut, "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus". Candlemass without Messiah Marcolin is like Black Sabbath without the iconic Ozzy Osbourne. To some that might be a bad thing, but to many, the Dio years gave us a reinvigorated Sabbath. I feel much the same way about Candlemass and new singer Robert Lowe, know for his work in Solitude Aeturnus. Candlemass couldn't have picked a better man to do the job.

"King of the Grey Islands" is the ninth full-length studio album from Swedish doom metal monsters Candlemass. As would be expected from Candlemass, the music is straight forward doom metal; dark, moody with plenty of melody and memorable songs. Despite the absence of Messiah, the music is still undoubtedly Candlemass. As a matter of fact, Lowe's vocals throughout the entire album are clean, crisp, and powerful and his vocals are one of the highlights of this album. His vocal style is different than Marcolin's in that he is less operatic and has more of a classic heavy metal sound. Lowe has a great range and sings with a definite emotion that makes you think he really believes whatever it is he is singing about. For the most part, "King Of The Grey Islands" seems to have a dark, brooding concept running through the album album focusing on depression in modern society; ie. depression ("Emperor of the Void"), suicide ("Embracing the Styx"), frustration & violence ("Destroyer"), sin ("Devil Seed"), etc.. This is all brought together by excellent production that is clean without robbing the band of their heavy, dark vibe. Really just a solid record from beginning to end.

Some pressings feature two bonus tracks that feature Robert Lowe singing a couple of early Candlemass classics.

Death Magic Doom Candlemass - Death Magic Doom (Nuclear Blast) 2009

1.  If I Ever Die (4:54)
2.  Hammer Of Doom (6:17)
3.  The Bleeding Baroness (7:20)
4.  Demon Of The Deep (5:22)
5.  House Of 1000 Voices (7:50)
6.  Dead Angel (4:05)
7.  Clouds Of Dementia (5:39)
8.  My Funeral Dreams (6:05)
9.  Lucifer Rising (3:44)

Candlemass  are icons of doom metal. With more than 20 years under their belt since the release of the classic "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus". "Death Magic Doom" is the tenth studio album from the Swedish doom-sters and their second with vocalist Robert Lowe (ex-Solitude Aeternus) replacing Messiah Marcolin. As such, I expected nothing less than top-notch musicianship and epic doom metal, and that's exactly what they deliver. The band have incorporated some classic heavy metal elements into their sound and are not what I would call traditional doom metal. They are more epic and even more upbeat at times, such as album opener "If I Ever Die". That particular song is to Candlemass was songs like "Neon Knights" is to Black Sabbath. It still sounds like Candlemass, but it's faster paced and more upbeat. And speaking of Sabbath, the bridge section in the middle of "Hammer of Doom", complete with a ripping Iommi-style guitar solo, is a huge nod to Birmingham's black sheep. Another standout cut is "Demon of the Deep" with it's slow menacing riffs and screaming guitars at war with each other with Lowe being the glue that binds it all together.

I've read a few comments on-line that vocalist Robert Lowe didn't quite fit the mold of the band on "King of the Grey Islands". I don't necessarily agree, but even if that be true, their chemistry is certainly clicking here. Lowe's dazzling and charsmatic voice fits the mood of the album perfectly, whether it be the more somber moments or the more upbeat songs like "If I Ever Die".  "The Bleeding Baroness" is an epic song that is both crushingly heavy and somehow beautifully melodic. "Dead Angel" brings in a bit of a the traditional heavy metal influence in the catchy chorus, which makes the song quite memorable. Bassist Leif Edling, who is the creative force behind the band, seems to have really gotten his Tony Iommi (or in his case Geezer Butler) on for this record. The riffs and even some of the guitar solos really have that quality to them.

Though the basis for the music here is guitar driven, there is a myriad of other instruments mixed in to add flavor to the songs. You will hear organs, chimes, bells, etc. at different times on the album. Everything is heard crystal clear as the production here is nearly flawless. The production is raw enough to not lose the heaviness of the music and the crunch of the guitars, but is clean enough that every instrument can be heard clearly, including the bass guitar.

"Death Magic Doom" is a fantastic album from beginning to end. Hardcore fans may still have a problem with Candlemass without Marcolin. I'm sure those are the same fans that had a problem with Dio being in Sabbath. However, there is no denying that "Heaven & Hell" and "Mob Rules" were monumental albums. The same holds true for "Death Magic Doom". It is a fantastic CD.

Related collections:
, Solitude Aeturnus

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